"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Is DESE Being Truthful About Data Sharing?

DESE claim to legislators:

*Will student data from the Smarter Balanced Assessment system be shared with the United States Department of Education (USDOE)?

Joe Willhoft, executive director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, provided the following response:

"As executive director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, I can unequivocally state that there is no agreement, nor discussion of any arrangement between Smarter Balanced and USDOE regarding transmission of student-level data to USDOE.

The Consortium has no intention to seek any such agreement, and we have not been asked or pressured to do so by USDOE. Each of the 21 Governing State members in Smarter Balanced manages the student records within its state.  The privacy and handling of individually-identifiable education records are subject to pertinent state laws and to the federal Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  State and federal privacy rules would not permit the transmission of records you describe."  

Was this quote from Mr. Willhoft prior to or after December 2012?  Once again, DESE provides no supporting evidence for when this statement was made.

Here is a quote about providing student data to the Department of Education from Joe Wilhoft in EdWeek December 2012:

A key push in the latest redesign was to ensure that the test yields enough detailed information to enable reports on student performance in specific areas of math and English/language arts, Smarter Balanced officials said. The U.S. Department of Education, in particular, pressed for that, said Joe Willhoft, SBAC’s executive director.

Is "asked or pressured" the same as "pressed for that"?

We can determine Missouri social service agencies and educational entities do want to collect data for pre-K students and this report from 2009 shows the plan and intent of sharing student data.  This is a State Advisory Council grant request for stimulus funds by Missouri. The grant request was posted by The Administration for Children and Families, (ACF):

 a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It is headed by the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families. It has a $58.8 billion budget for 65 programs that target children, youth and families.[1] These programs include assistance with welfare, child support enforcement, adoption assistance, foster care, child care, and child abuse.  

The State Advisory Council's description is written on NGA letterhead.  You may find it hereThe purpose of the organization reads:

The CBEC was established by statute in August 2004 as a public-private entity charged with coordinating a state system of early childhood programs and services. The CBECs statutory authority is established within the Missouri Childrens Service Commission, whose membership is composed of agency heads and legislators.

 What do these state agencies (DESE is included in the membership roster of agencies) want to do with stimulus funding?  From the Missouri Application for State Advisory Council ARRA (stimulus) Funds:

 Piloting data collection at Head Start sites.

Missouri, like many other states, has no linkages between state-level data collection systems and local Head Start offerings. Lack of centralized information prevents well-informed policy and program decisions. This work will plug into Missouri’s efforts that lead the nation in centralized data collection for early childhood endeavors (P-20 Data Council work). This work will take place over 3 years. (pg 43)

Additionally, this needs assessment should include all requirements addressed in the State Advisory Council application per AARA , 2009  (pg 68)

MU historically has supplied significant leadership around early childhood system initiatives throughout the state of Missouri. The Director of the Center for Family Policy and Research (CFPR) serves on the CBEC and is a key leader in both national and state initiatives. The Center houses the OPEN Initiative, whose primary focus is the development and implementation of a career development system for early childhood and school age/afterschool professionals. The Center also houses the state Quality Rating System team that developed the state’s team and serves as the model for state policy.  The Center is the source of some early childhood data, and leads efforts to bring together state and federal data regarding young children to inform research and policy efforts. This work is a national model, with the Center’s director advising the National Governors’ Association, the Council of Chief State Schools’ Officers and the National State Conference of Legislatures on how to direct states further in their work. (pg 58) (pg 58)

The tie in with these agencies to DESE, the NGA and CCSSO should make one pause and wonder about DESE's statement that there is no plan to be shared with the USDOEd based on Mr. Willhoft's statement in EdWeek and the proposal drafted in 2009 showing clear intent for Missouri to lead the nation in data retrieval for early childhood information.  

So given the above information, do you believe DESE's statement that student data will not be gathered and given to the USDOEd? If results are given to HHSS and interagency data sharing is  available and mandated due to the rewriting of FERPA and educational mandates for data retrieval, are we to believe the USDOEd won't be given this data?

Look at the graphic from 2009 showing data being shared with the Department of Education:

This is from ESP Solutions Group and clearly shows data shared with the USDOEd.  What would ESP know about data collection and where it ends up?  It was a company (sold to Pearson in 2009) regarded as a leading expert in data retrieval and technology in   educational federal programs:
ESP Solutions Group provides its clients with extraordinary insight into K-12 education data systems and psychometrics. The ESP team is comprised of industry experts who pioneered the concept of data-driven decision making (D3M) and now help optimize the management of its clients' state and local education agencies. ESP personnel have advised many local school systems, all 52 state education agencies, and the U.S. Department of Education on the practice of K-12 school data management. ESP is regarded as a leading expert in understanding the data and technology implications of the No Child Left Behind Act, Education Data Exchange Network/EDFacts, and the Schools Interoperability Framework. Their expertise and experience is documented in their Optimal Reference Guides (whitepapers on a variety of education topics such as data quality, data reporting, and growth models.) ESP's Optimal Reference Guides are available on their website in the Resources section. The firm is headquartered in Austin, Texas. For more information, go to http://www.espsolutionsgroup.com.

and from ESP's The Process for Ensuring Data Quality:

Steps for Achieving Data Quality

The authors assisted the U.S. Department of Education in the development of a set of data quality standards for program data. A training package was developed from those standards and sessions were conducted with program office staff. We took those relatively high-level standards and created a step-by-step process for managing the quality of data across an entire annual cycle.

ESP has worked closely with the Department of Education and should know the path of data collection. Is DESE telling the truth about student data sharing with the USDOEd?

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